What inspired you to go vegan and what has been the most rewarding part?
I was originally inspired by a documentary. It sparked some pretty important questions about my own values and lifestyle. Continued inspiration comes from the fact that it benefits so many aspects of life, animals, the earth, and personal health. Food is such an integral part of our lives and deeply embedded in every culture but I was still surprised that I hadn’t thought about the food I was eating sooner. That was about 5 years ago, as I continued to learn and research, further aligning my life and actions with my personal values, it continues to be the right choice for me. I love the peace of mind that comes from eating a meal that has caused no harm.
What has your experience in Phoenix been like?
I moved to Phoenix in 2010 from Orange County, CA. It’s the first place I lived away from home and my family, and it really is a great city for that. It’s quick and easy to get around town, there are plenty of things to do and see, and still a short flight back home for me. The weather is perfect for more than half the year, now that I’ve gotten used to the heat.
Over the past few years Phoenix has made some big changes. It’s growing and modernizing, we are seeing a lot more fun and trendy spots pop up. It doesn’t exactly have a ton of night life, very few places seem to stay open after 10 pm, but that completely works for me. Overall this city is simple and laid-back, very much like me.
People hear vegan and they immediately think diet. How has veganism impacted other aspects of your life?
That is so true! In no way is this a diet for me, nor is my primary reason for being vegan the health benefit. (Please pass me those vegan cookies and ice cream!) The health aspect is a really important added bonus for me.
Veganism has become my lifestyle. I think about where my clothes and shoes come from and what went into the cosmetics and soaps I use. Once you start thinking about it and learning, you’ll find vegan values flowing everywhere.
What advice would you give to people who are thinking about going vegan or who have just gone vegan?
For those thinking about it, it’s important to make the change for a reason you truly connect with at your core, not just because it’s getting popular. Educate yourself and decide how you feel about the food you’re eating.
Then once you do make the change, be kind to yourself! There is a learning curve. You are going to find out that you ate something with unexpected milk in it after it’s already gone. You’ll go through a range of emotions but just take it as a lesson. It really does get easier and it’s not about being perfect.
Take it one meal at a time. Keep researching and learning. Follow vegan accounts on social media for motivation and find a strong support system.
What is a favorite food of yours that you struggle to find vegan?
I recently found vegan mochi at Trader Joe's, I hadn’t had that since being vegan! Otherwise I don’t really miss anything. My childhood favorites were macaroni & cheese and Taco Bell bean burritos. While I think my taste buds have changed, there are several vegan mac & cheese options that hit the spot! And those burritos are certified vegan (without the cheese) and can be a life-saver in a pinch!
What do you do for fun?
Phoenix has a ton of events happening all the time. I love the new experiences and of course I attend all the vegan festivals. I tend to be a curious person and want to learn new stuff all the time, so I’ll always have a podcast or audio book playing. Meditation and yoga are important to me and I picked up painting last year. But the two things I love most - hanging out with my dog and traveling.
What podcasts do you listen to?
My favorites – Oprah’s Super Soul, Hidden Brain, 1A, How I Built This, and The Pitch.
Have a favorite quote?
A classic from Dr. Maya Angelou (and Oprah) “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” That applies to all aspects of life but something vegans especially should keep in mind when looking back and when advocating. It creates a compassion and understanding for yourself and others.
How is it being vegan and traveling? Can you share about a recent travel experience?
My mom, sister and I have been on a roll recently. We went to Madrid, Barcelona and Prague this past year. I was especially impressed with Prague’s vegan options. Our hotel was just outside of city-center and the first thing I saw across from the hotel was a restaurant called Vegg-Go! Then in the mall next to that, Loving Hut was in the food court, buffet style! Spain on the other hand, did have the best vegan street art but also has jamón ibérico everywhere, huge pig legs hanging in store windows. The bright side for me was that it got my mom to go vegetarian!
Overall, it’s not too difficult to travel. I bring plenty of snacks, let the airline know ahead of time, and use the Happy Cow App.
Why did you decide to lead the Phoenix Chapter?
As soon as I learned about Veganizer I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I had been wondering how I could be more involved advocating and Veganizer seemed like the perfect fit. So I think my passion for veganism will be my driving force but I also have over 11 years of experience in business operations, management and organizing events. I’ve learned to manage my detail-orientation to make sure things keep moving forward quickly and in the fast-paced restaurant industry that will be important. With that and being a manager myself, I’ll be a strong support system to the restaurant owners and managers.
How do you see the future of Veganizer in Phoenix?
I’m excited to see where we can take it! The Phoenix vegan community is incredible and super supportive so I’m eager to bring them more options and experiences this year than ever before. I hope Veganizer can educate and help as many restaurants as possible. At the very least, I’d love for every restaurant to give a confident answer when someone asks what vegan options they have. Let’s see if we can get Phoenix on one of those top lists, Top Vegan-Friendly Cities, or something like that. I really don’t see limits.